With his 28th-place finish Sunday in the Enjoy Illinois 300, Brad Keselowski became the 46th NASCAR Cup Series driver to make at least 500 points-paying starts.
Keselowski, who had a sour engine in the Gateway race, fell three laps down. Then he earned two free passes and a wave around to get back on the lead lap.
“Thank you to all the people who’ve been involved with every chapter of my NASCAR career,” Keselowski said on social media. “And to the fans, I wouldn’t be here without you. I’m not done yet!”
Keselowski is ranked 11th in points, 96 points above the playoff cutline (17th, Alex Bowman). Keselowski has three Top-5 finishes and six Top-10 finishes in the first 15 races of the season.
Keselowski made his first two starts in the Cup Series in 2008, racing for Hendrick Motorsports.
Keselowski raced for Hendrick and Phoenix Racing in a partial schedule in 2009, earning his — and Phoenix Racing’s — first career victory. He finished the season driving Team Penske’s No. 12 Dodge.
From there, Keselowski raced for Team Penske from 2010 to 2021. He earned 34 wins and the 2012 series title before making the jump as an owner-driver at Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing in 2022.
In 500 Cup Series starts — 487 of which are consecutive — Keselowski has 18 poles, 35 victories, 142 Top-5 finishes, 239 Top-10 finishes, 9,022 laps led, and that 2012 title.
The first driver to hit 500 starts in the Cup Series was Buck Baker in 1964.
The only two drivers who won in their 500th start were Richard Petty and Matt Kenseth.
Currently, no other Cup Series driver will make their 500th start in 2023. The next closest active driver is Michael McDowell (444), who could race his 500th Cup race by the end of the 2024 season.
I am a co-owner and reporter for TheRacingExperts.com.